Leaked data shows A&E wards in England experienced the worst month of delays in January, with a record number of patients waiting for longer than the four-hour target.

13 years since the four-hour target was introduced, the leaked figures, which were compiled by regulator NHS Improvement, also suggest a record high for patients waiting more than 12 hours for a bed after being seen in A&E.

The data suggests that from the 1.4 million visits in January, 82% of patients in A&E – rather than the target 95% – were transferred, admitted or discharged within four hours. More than 60,000 people waited for up to 12 hours for a bed.

A spokesperson from the Department of Health said: “We do not recognise these figures – it is irresponsible to publish unverified data and does a disservice to all NHS staff working tirelessly to provide care around the clock.

“Despite the pressures of winter the vast majority of patients are seen and treated quickly and hospitals have detailed plans in place to manage busy periods – supported by an extra £400 million of funding.”

Chief Executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said: “These figures have not been verified and should therefore be treated with caution, but they are in line with the feedback we have been getting from trusts.

“NHS staff have responded magnificently to increased winter pressures, but the situation has become unsustainable.

“The rise in long trolley waits is particularly worrying, as there is clear evidence they can lead to worse outcomes for patients.”

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